Back to the video list: North American History


Several European states founded colonies in North America after Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. The main colonial powers were Spain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and England, later Great Britain.






  • Date: 1492 – 1754
  • Location: North America
  • Start: Christopher Columbus discovers America
  • End: French & Indian War which leads to the restructuring of the North American colonies


Parties & Persons Involved

  • England, later: Great Britain
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Spain



  • Relative overpopulation in Europe, meaning the relation of young men to work / functions in the societies
  • Religious oppression in Europe
  • European powers strive after glory & reputation
  • European powers seek after more wealth through trade within the own sphere of influence according to mercantilism



Spanish Colonies

  • 1492: Christopher Columbus discovers America
  • 1519 – 1521: Cortez conquers the empire of the Aztec empire for Spain
  • 1565: Spaniards found the garrison St. Augustine in Florida
  • 1598: Founding of the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico San Juan de los Caballeros


French, Dutch & Swedish Colonies

  • 1608: The French found the first settlement in nowadays Quebec
  • 1682: France claims Louisiana
  • 1614: The Dutch found New Netherlands with the capital New Amsterdam
  • 1638: Sweden founds New Sweden
  • 1655: The Dutch conquer New Sweden after the Swedish traders became a serious competition


English / British Colonies

  • 1607: Jamestown is the first colony of the English (later British) Empire
  • 1620: The mass immigration of Puritans starts with the Mayflower
  • 1664: The English take over the Dutch colonies
  • 1713: Great Britain receives territories at the Hudson Bay, in Newfoundland & Nova Scotia from France as a result of the Queen Anne’s War
  • 1733: With Georgia the last of the 13 British colonies is established


Further Developments

  • Several military conflicts between the colonial powers & with the Indians during the 17th & 18th century
  • After initial difficulties the economy of the colonies constantly grows based on agriculture & trade
  • 1754: The French & Indian War starts & with it the North American colonies are rearranged
  • In comparison with Europe the British colonies develop a more open society with a pluralistic integration of the different religions & interest groups


Consequences & Impact

  • Consequences for the relations between the colonial powers:
    • Esp. between Britain & France the tensions are growing which leads to the French & Indian War
  • Consequences for the relations between the colonies & the colonial powers:
    • The societies in the colonies develop in a more liberal & pluralistic way
    • Strong economic growth in the colonies
    • The basis for democratic societies is set
    • The 13 British colonies develop a strong self-esteem & the will to independence
  • Precondition for the American Revolution & the foundation to the United States of America